Miranda July has donated the entire archive from her Joanie 4 Jackie feminist film movement to the Getty Research Institute, and launched a website dedicated to the project. Started in 1995 as an underground network to promote and share the works of women filmmakers, the archive – now open to the public – includes 300 films as well as booklets, posters, programmes, letters and various ephemera produced during the span of the movement.
The artist began the project (originally called Big Miss Moviola) aged 21 in the midst of the Riot Grrrl scene in Portland, US, hoping to support “underrepresented” female artists in filmmaking. She distributed a flyer at punk shows and schools stating: “A challenge and a promise: Lady, you send me your movie and I’ll send you the latest Big Miss Moviola Chainletter Tape.”
Women sent their VHS films to Miranda and she cut them together as a “chainletter” tape, a compilation of ten films with intro and outro sequences made by the artist, and sent it back to the filmmakers. Each tape was sent together with a photocopied booklet containing letters by the artists. As the movement grew, Miranda hosted nationwide screenings and group meetings with the artists. It also prompted a “more polished” spin-off series of compilations called The Co-Star Tapes, curated by guest editors such as Astria Suparak and Rita Gonzalez.
The project served to inspire female filmmakers for over a decade, and with this recent donation Miranda hopes to “give energy” to society’s “current, crucial resistance”.
“In a pre-YouTube world, this was one way we could see each other’s work and know we weren’t alone,” says Miranda. “It is not an overstatement to say that everything I have ever made has been with these artists and audiences in mind. We granted each other a powerful space that I have kept my heart in and built upon, often in the face insidious, dispiriting mysogyny.”
The archive can be explored here.